|From the early days (art by Mike Cogliandro)|
I got into superhero games more or less at the same time I started reading and accumulating (you can't call what I do "collecting") comics. The first Champions game I remember playing in was originally hosted at ComicQuest, my friendly local
(Randall from RetroRoleplaying: The Blog was a part owner of the shop and co-GMed the first campaign I played in. He had a disagreement with the other co-GM and the game ended up moving to a series of venues, pretty much whoever had room to host it. Since we all lived with our folks, it was a sporadic game at times.)
I don't actually remember the specifics of how the campaign kicked off, so I later retconned the history when I co-opted it for a later campaign. Here's what my notes say:
The Alamo Defenders
The group known as the Alamo Defenders began in 1983 as a chance meeting of three superheroes trying to avert the desecration of the Alamo by the villainous Geodesics. Spectrum, Fury, and Mechanix, joined by Vanadium soon after, formed the core of the group for the next ten years. In that time, the Defenders were recruited into AmTek's Strikeforce program and operated under that banner for most of their careers. They played a pivotal role in the second Krell war, faced down some of the Earth's most dangerous villains, and kept San Antonio and South Texas as safe as they possibly could.
It's a nice summary of an early campaign that I vaguely remember some details from nearly thirty years on. The setting was intentionally vague, with lots of villains from the Champions Enemies books. Chris (the other GM) had moved to San Antonio from Phoenix, where he'd played in a massive (involving upwards of two dozen players) Champions campaign run out of Flying Buffalo's retail shop. Chris took the background from that campaign and simply set up a new "franchise" in San Antonio.
Eventually, Chris took a break from GMing and I ended up running the game, the first of many, many supers campaigns I've run over the years. Eventually real life intervened and the players ended up going separate ways, but you never forget your first great campaign.
Fast forward to 1993 (or, as I say with some dread, eighteen years ago). I was looking to create a new setting for a four-color Champions campaign. While I was straining my brain to come up with something different, I ran across Scott Bennie's "New Columbians" setting (which later saw print as Gestalt: the Hero Within, a sourcebook I HIGHLY recommend). The idea of a group of supers having to fill the shoes of their seniors isn't exactly new, but it's got a lot of roleplaying appeal. At the same time, I chanced across some write-ups of the early Defenders' exploits, which got me thinking, What if this had kept going? Where would they be now?
Two days later, I had a campaign background roughed in. A few months later, I moved to Houston, and after a failed initial attempt to get a campaign off the ground, I offered The New Defenders. While I wouldn't say it took off like a rocket, we did get through fourteen sessions, which is fairly respectable. More importantly, I made some friends through that campaign who helped me get through my first few (very rocky) years in Houston and whom I still treasure to this day.
In the next few posts, I'll detail bits of the New Defenders setting and share my adventure summaries.
But first, another one of the founding members of the original team, in all his glory.
|There's a reason I don't draw these from scratch.|
Fury (Created by Perry Smith, used with permission)
Mental Resistance Master
Mental Blast 8
Mind Control 6
Catchphrase : "Leave Me Alone!"
Motivation : Guilt
Identity : Marc Sinclair, Known Superhero
Enemy : Embryo
Personal : Goes Temporarily Blind When Stamina Drops Below 3
Social : Distinctive Appearance (White Hair, Scarred Face, Eyes Glow When Power In Use)
Point Total 59
Depending on who asks him, Marc Sinclair will tell any number of stories regarding the origin of the powers he wields as Fury. His favorite, of course, involves Keith Richards, a gallon of homemade vodka, and a rogue KGB agent. Then there’s the one about the time-travelling space monkeys and their ship made of hot dog wrappers.
The truth is only a little bit less odd…
In 1974, Marc Sinclair was a student at the University of Texas. Like most college students, he was constantly broke. So it should come as no surprise that he helped finance his education the same way so many other students do – he sold his body for medical experiments.
One such experiment required him to be injected with an experimental drug known simply as Lot 49. The professor conducting the experiment had no way of knowing that this drug was actually a leftover by-product of a Viet Nam era biowarfare study, all he knew was that the project was very well funded and his patrons wanted results quickly.
But they didn’t materialize.
The experiment was classified a failure, the funding quickly pulled, and the results, such as they were, buried in governmental red tape. Marc went on with his life for the next five years. Always a rebel, he found and embraced the punk music scene. He also committed the occasional petty larceny and consumed his share of illicit substances.
It was after an all-night binge of slam-dancing and Speed that he got the first indication that something was wrong. As the drugs and adrenaline worked their way out of his system, he crashed. Hard. Harder than ever before. And just to make matters worse, his vision initially blurred, then went black altogether. He panicked, and knocked himself out when he stumbled into a doorframe in his struggles.
When he woke, he found his vision restored. Approximately four seconds after that, he learned what everybody in the surrounding block was thinking, as their thoughts flooded his mind. This time, instead of panicking, he lashed out…
And promptly went blind again.
But the thoughts stopped for the most part, as everyone in surrounding block suddenly decided a nap was a very good thing.
By now, Marc had a pretty good idea of what was going on. He was manifesting psionic powers. He didn’t know why he had them, but he knew he had to get them under control or they would kill him. Packing up a few things, he hopped on his motorcycle and headed for the wide open spaces of the west.
Three years later, he returned to civilization. His hair completely white now, he still looked every inch the angry punk he used to be. But three years had taught him how to use his powers and allowed him to grow up a bit. Will still no law-and-order type, he figured that whoever did this to him was still out there and that he’d be better off with the law behind him if he ever caught up with them.
He joined the fledgling Defenders and made a mark as the team cynic and rebel. Things went pretty well for a while, then they went entirely to Hell.
But That’s A Story For Next Issue, True Believer!